Dogs, trees and of course M.

As I start this post the third M has arrived and will be given its maiden outing anon. M made up for their previous arguments over delivery times by arriving at 1pm for a 4pm appointment. We were of course out. They waited. On pain of death. I am staying well away from the laundry.

I was struck today by a most elegant and appealing piece of artwork, to wit, a pair of Staffordshire dogs. The artist is my good pal Lottie Nevin. The picture is on her FB page but visit her blog anyway for more exquisite paintings. I mentioned in passing that I have a story about Staffordshire dogs. It is not, I am sorry to say, a happy one.

We had a pair of SDs in the family. They belonged to my maternal grandmother, Whence they came I know not but they were always much admired and coveted by everyone. She passed away in 1970 and the dogs along with the house went to my aunt. Quite right too. She knew how popular the dogs were with all the family. Make a will, we urged her. She never did. She did not want people upset by her decisions as to who should receive what. She told me that she would be happy for me to have them but I suspect she told one or two others the same. It didn’t matter.

Many years passed and so eventually did my aunt. No will. After the funeral one of the nephews hot-footed it down to her house where another cousin had the key. In he went and out came the dogs, straight to the back of his car. Where do you think you are taking those? asked another cousin. She promised them to me. The reply came back, I’m the eldest nephew. I get them. There was uproar. He disappeared quickly. The bad feeling still rankles a decade or more on.

I had somehow always felt the dogs would not come to me. I was constantly on the look out for a pair in antique shops. I never found what I wanted. I did however find a smaller pair of what I call Staffordshire pups.


Here they are flanking a piece of Wedgwood I inherited from my parents. They are not valuable but they remind me of dear old Auntie Elsie. There was further skullduggery around her estate. She died unmarried and intestate. We learned that the estate (small as it was) would be divided amongst the offspring of her siblings. So if you were unlucky enough to be one of 3 then you received 1/3 of 1/8 not a simple equal share divided amongst all the nephews and nieces. Nevertheless we all agreed that equal shares was how we wanted it to be and signed up to that effect. Except one. Not the dog snatcher but another villain. To bring matters to a close I gave him half just over half my entitlement so he would sign. I then gave half my entitlement to the cousin who had looked after Auntie E. in her later years. I actually ended up with a deficit and no dogs. Such was life. Sometimes you have to do the right thing.

And so to the trees. Our communal garden has become overgrown. The gardener has been ill. So one of the new owners today took matters into his own hands. The chain saw was out and trees and bushes came down all day. I have very mixed feelings. The view is better than ever. But how long did those trees take to grow? Where will all the bugs and things go? Will the birds desert us? Here they are, the butchers of Sai Kung.


There were two camps this morning. Those for and those against. The organiser took no heed and a 40′ tree came down whilst the ‘against’ faction booed and hissed. The deed is done. The next step is unclear. More carnage? The organiser calls it landscaping. Perhaps I should introduce the wielder of the chainsaw to my errant cousins so they too might be landscaped. I might even get the dogs at the end of it.


25 thoughts on “Dogs, trees and of course M.

  1. The lack of a will, or even the possession of one at times, causes such familial friction. Although our “estate” is miniscule there is a will. We are pretty specific about percentages and whom.

    I like Staffordshire quite a bit. No dogs, but we do have a nice moo cow pitcher. 🙂

    I am afraid we are about to become the butchers of Amherst. Some trees will be taken down this autumn that are threatening our house on one side of the yard and another on the neighbor’s side. We’ll lose some summer shade with the downing of the maple but a year’s worth of firewood.

  2. I fear that the Hardacre humour cannot make any of this more palatable, Andrew.
    ____________________________ is a line drawn under it.
    If you google “staffordshire dogs” you get the most extraordinary mixture of both little china thinggies like yours and dogs that *I* think of as ‘staffies’ – great broadchested, broadheaded monsters that stand on four rather alarming feet. These are the dogs that the worst dog-owners in the world tend to go for, unhappily for them.
    I should dearly like to know how come those china thinggies are supposed to bear the slightest resemblance to staffies …

  3. You’ve made me blush. How very lovely of you to mention me in your post. Thank you, Andrew 🙂 I’m so glad that you liked my picture of Mr and Mrs Staffordshire – there’s a tale attached to them too but I shall save the telling for another day. Absolutely horrified to hear about what happened when your aunt died – how beastly and rotten people can be. I do like your Staffordshire ‘pups’ though, they are very beautiful.

    As for the butchery that is going on in the communal garden – I think I’d weep, I hate it when mature trees get cut down willy-nilly. Still, if HK is anything like Indonesia whatever gets planted, will grow at a super-turbo charged rate. One of the bonus’s of a humid, tropical climate.

    And lastly, M. Hopefully the ‘third time lucky’ rule will apply 😀

  4. There is nothing quite like the death of a family member to bring out the worst in some people and cause festering grudges years later. I like the idea that errant family members can be ‘landscaped’. I think I’m going to carry that image for a while 🙂

  5. When it came to Mum’s things, I just said to my brother and sister, ‘go fo it’. I am in Brazil, and will probably travel again; while nice to have memories of Mum, they would be an incumberance. They were happy, and family relations stayed normal.

    Landscaping vs butchering is a bit like conservation vs management, like the US govt with their wolf stamps; management means culling.


    • My brother and I also had no arguments over our parents estate. The problem with my aunt’s estate was the sheer number of nephews and nieces. She was one of 9 children. Some offspring were just plain greedy.

  6. I remember the upset in our family when my paternal grandmother died. She had a glass fronted cabinet full of treasures, mostly fragile. Things like a preserved dragonfly, some coral etc (this was fifty years ago).
    As soon as she died, one of my uncles and his wife rushed to the house and loaded the entire contents of the cabinet into the boot of their car. My dad was furious and never forgot it. He always insisted the treasures never made it out of the boot, it was pure greed, and they had no intention of displaying the peices.

    In the last five years of her life, my mother would bring a few things she wanted me to have on her visits to Canada. And we were sent home with things when we visited her. It made it easier on everyone after she died
    Good to hear you took the high road in all this Andrew.
    Don’t let Mrs Ha bear the Staffies if the latest M gets ‘ornery.

  7. Ugh. Family is a tough gig sometimes. I’ve only got my dad and bro left. No fighting here. . No one to fight with! ! Well, Oops. I forget I’m married sometimes. .. His one sis is a brat. I don’t interact with her much. When I do, I’m never happy I did.
    Enjoy your weekend!

  8. At least you were gracious enough to do right. Your cousin who took care if Auntie E must have been so grateful.
    My parents informed us their will is equal to the 4 of us. My youngest brother would think nothing of robbing us blind. Oh, the joys of siblings/family. :-/

    • P.S. We have 2 unhealthy/dying pine trees near our car garage. I want to wait until after nesting season to cut them down. Well, my hubby gave me the bird about the birds and they’ll be cut down next week. Such a shame! The woodpeckers love these trees.
      Happy your view is improved, should increase property value, but what a tremendous environmental cost. I would be booing/hissing too.

      • If the trees are dying Caroline they need to come down before they put anybody at risk. We have had several trees fall in HK in recent years. One snapped this week alongside a busy street – rotten to the core. It killed a pregnant woman. Her baby was delivered and is still in ICU. Sometimes it is sad but not worth the risk.

  9. I couldn’t agree more! What an incredibly tragic event.
    We’ve had our trees inspected, trunks sturdy enough for the men to climb up instead of a crane to remove them.
    I am for nature, birds, etc. but I’m still a touch sensible. Would never risk my children being injured for a tree.

  10. Oh me. Been there and done that too with the no will thing when my husband died. It was a mess and to this day I blame some of what I had to endure with the no will thing as a cause of great stress that contributed to my heart problem. But I came out the winner because I made a bee line to a good attorney.

    Yes and trees have to come down when they have a rotten core. I’ve had to part with 100 year old red oaks because they were in danger of falling.

    And last but not least I truly hope that M the III will be the charm.

  11. Mum and Dad have insisted we put name labels on anything of theirs that we fancy when they’ve both gone. Gruesomely morbid, I know but Dad being Dad, ever the practical and very fair minded. Reluctantly we have put claim to a few things and happily, have not yet clashed in what we’d like as a keepsake.

  12. I enjoyed my visit to Lotte’s blog and I hope M the Third proves reliable and friendly. Sorry about family craziness, it leaves a sour taste, but you did the right thing and, Staffies apart, you are better off with nothing lingering from that set of relatives. My husband has been a brilliant executor to his father (no family except us) and mine (three siblings, 11 grandchildren and several great-grands), so we are well trained. My father’s will, handwritten, was wonderful and simply divided among us four, no money, but generations of possessions. We actually had great fun and the grandchildren (teens upwards) all ended up with a medley of items of their choice. Wills all made, Power of Attorney to each other and to both our daughters all done. You didn’t need to know all that, but I’m smiling as I remember.

    • We also have very simple wills with everything going to the other. Provisions made if one does not survive the other 30 days etc. The children get equal shares after that. My only concern is that nobody cheats people over my books. I have many collectors items, first editions etc. Valuing them is for an expert. Ah well, I won’t be around to worry. I was an executor for my mother. Very simple. Fast probate. No arguments. It can be done.

      • Books… ah, now there’s a problem. Every room (minus 2 1/2) in our house has between one and a whole wall full of bookcases, mostly quantity (and a little quality). I can’t even think about what the girls can do with them, but as you say, I won’t have to.

I'd be delighted to hear what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s